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The Two Cities in the Fleury Playbook Thomas P. Campbell The collection of plays found in MS. Orleans 201 is one of the great achievements of medieval literature. Individual dra­ mas—the Play of Herod, the Son of Getron, Lazarus—have become familiar to students of medieval drama partially because of their successful production in modem times. Yet, little critical attention has been paid to the collection as a whole. In fact, we are very far from knowing why it was brought together, or even where it was originally written. The purpose of this essay is to present an assessment of its literary value and to suggest some principles of coherence that apply to the group of plays collected in the manuscript. Despite its uniqueness, the Fleury Playbook has been seen by most scholars as basically a compilation of liturgical plays available from other sources. According to such thinking, a redactor, or redactors, simply copied versions of the plays, perhaps with slight modification, and bound them into the book. But why would so many plays—more than exist in any other manuscript of Latin drama—have been collected? And why from so many diverse traditions? I would like to suggest that, contrary to the prevailing view, the Fleury plays form a coherent and distinct group, and that a clear purpose guided their selection and presentation. I propose that the playwright who was responsible for the Fleury plays was strongly influenced by the Augustinian doctrine of the Two Cities, and that he modified, adapted, or created dramas which illustrate this concern. Augustine articulated the theme of these two communities in The City of God thus: THOMAS P. CAMPBELL teaches at Wabash College. His previous publications on medieval drama include papers in Comparative Drama and the American Benedic­ tine Review. 148 Thomas P. Campbell 149 What we see, then, is that two societies have issued from two kinds of love. Worldly society has flowered from a selfish love which dared to despise even God, whereas the communion of saints is rooted in a love of God that is ready to trample on self. The city of man seeks the praise of men, whereas the height of glory for the other is to hear God in the witness of conscience.! And, although man was created capable of achieving the City of God through his own merits, he has fallen because of sin into bodily corruption: It was surely enough that on that day [i.e., the day on which Adam and Eve ate the fruit] their nature became defective and was changed for the worse, and that, by being justly deprived of the tree of life, they became subject to that necessity of bodily death, which is now for us innate.2 It is not not until Christ established a “model” through his Resurrection that man was delivered from the worldly death he had created for himself.3 This philosophical interpretation of history established by Augustine became the predominant form of Christian historio­ graphy during the Middle Ages. In fact, the Universal History, tracing the conflicting fates of good and evil men beginning with Adam and continuing to the date of composition, is found in every era from Fulgentius in the early sixth century to the end of the Middle Ages.4 Nor was the primary importance of Augustine’s work forgotten. Charlemagne, according to his biographer Einhardt, read the City of God daily, and by the mid twelfth century, the work became the very basis of the most highly regarded medieval history, the Chronica of Otto, Bishop of Freising. As Otto acknowledges in his Prologue: Sequor autem in hoc opere preclara potissimum Augustinum et Orosium ecclesiae lumina eorumque de fontibus ea, quae ad rem propositumve pertinent, haurire cogitavi. Quorum alter de gloriosae civitatis Dei exortu sive progressu debitisque finibus, quomodo inter mundi cives semper profecerit, quique eius cives vel principes quibus principum seu civium seculi temporibus extiterint, acutissime disertissimeque disputavit. (In this work I follow most of all those illustrious lights of the Church, Augustine and Orosius, and have planned to draw from those fountains what is pertinent to my theme and my purpose. The one of these has discoursed most keenly...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 148-165
Launched on MUSE
2018-07-11
Open Access
No
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